Monday, July 30, 2018


I first encountered him
And you may have too
On a visit to Bertie Wooster's gentleman's club
Where a certain esteem is assigned
To being

"The Oldest Member"

Wodehouse's words, of course, were fiction
Even Jeeves, Bertie's  valet
But, to me, the stories were real

My mother, our grand matriarch
Held court with her grandchildren 
And great grandchildren
For the last thirty of her 97 years

Her brother, ten years her junior
Outlived his generation
And was celebrated until he passed at 95

We loved it when they joined our events
Irreplaceable sources of family lore

 Regrettably, the inevitable generational loss
So much mine-able ore
Left untapped

 A few gems I keep
Deep where my psyche tweaks 
Me and what I do

Discussions of "getting old" were taboo
Walking and aerobics were pursued
As was mom's curiosity about our lives as teens
Keeping us at the dinner table
Long after dad had headed to the TV

Her brother read the New York Times
Saw the latest Broadway shows
And loved hosting our visits
To The Big Apple

They may have acquired their persistent youth 
From their mother
Who, it was said, loved a good party
And died in her sleep
After a long day of celebrating
One of her grandson's graduations

With her boots on, so to speak

Nor can I forget the teasing

     Our advanced degrees
     Did they really provide us with daily life expertise?

On my father's side it was "family"
When it mattered the most
We could depend on their presence

How sad to lose those uncles and aunts
The ones who would play catch with me as a kid
Or nudge me at Thanksgiving  
     "More bird?"

They communicated, at least  to me
A good humored approach to life
With a certain elan
Now I sense from the members of my clan
Unaccustomed civility and patience
     "Take your time"
     "Here, let me help with that"
     "How you doing, young man?
I wonder what I convey
Possibly it will show up
When I read my obituary
In the meantime
To our young
Aging out and due to step up

Excuse me
If I show some concern
About ceding this position

To take my place

     "The oldest member"

You'll have to wait your turn


Friday, June 29, 2018


Mama, I left my cap
We have to go back
No!  Don’t turn here!

Melt down

Cool mom

Daddy!  Daddy!
Come here!
            What is it?
Just come here!
            Honey, daddy just got home
            Let him relax a minute
No!  No!

Cool daddy

Meme!  Papa!  Let me carry your bags
Cool kid

Ninety degree dusty T-ball
At the park
Won again
Team picture then race for the snacks

Hot team

Ninety-five at Wrigleyville

Hot afternoon
Hot Cubs

Cool moments

Security lady with spritzer
            Take off your glasses
Fifth inning third baseline shade
Meme!  Papa!  Let me get the door

Dancing, tumbling
Sequined makeup
Hot chick
Big recital

Same chick teaching the youngest 
Paying off
Banking it

Hot prospect

31st Street Beach
Not a cloud in the sky
Near nineties
Lake front cooled
Beautiful beach with playground

Hot ideas for the future

Mikeski:  Please pass the hot sauce

Really cool at the hockey game

6/9/17 –6/13/17

Sunday, June 24, 2018



Friendly, finicky,
perched on a rail --
ate its keeper’s fish
but not his shrimp --
and now its snout’s a-drip
with drool.

Pet-able by regulars
who know the drill,
it did not encourage me,
eyeing, sidling, inching away.

Nothing personal.
It’s probably natural
for Florida pelicans
to shun
touristy one-night


. . . seemed bored.

Cruised the beach
to catch the show --

and surfers on boards --

unaware of the cow
just yards

Tail and head surfacing,
its shadow drifted under the pier
and continued south.


Interrupted at Disney’s water park
by a two hour rain delay.
Insult compounded injury --
getting wet outside the pool.
Less than five innings played,
so had to stay.


From the back,
just a strap
or two
tucked from view.
No curvy fannies, just butts.
Hands down, one leg up.
Down, dogs!
An imagination bust.


The roll was taken from the porch,
    in whispers,
of those who came to our backyard vespers.

Neighborhood redbirds
and red breasts arrived
with the slipping evening light
to claim their first-come, first-served
roosting rights.

An evening duel ensued
o’er who would have
the last bird words.

The redbirds, last at the feeder,
    chirped it shut for the night,
but couldn’t out-wait
the robins’
slow, drawn out antiphons,
    warbling down from the trees,
    trailing silence through the leaves.

These psalm-like prayers
prompted  "Amens"
from those below
not too busy to care
    who sang when
        or if the last solar lantern
            came on before ten.

Dennis R. Keefe, 9/30/12

The last dog walked
and garage rolled shut,
backyard stirrings cue
the porch’s invitation
promising tonight’s
summer evening presentation. 

Take a chair
dim the lights.
the curtain rises . . .
to heavy muggy air
settling, darkening to night –                                                              
harkening the first fireflies...
Stage left, then right.
Rise and disappear.

Cricket interludes intrude –
scattered . . .
building . . .
pulsing . . .                                             
to a surround sound
insect etude.

Rock it, cricket, rock it, cricket
rock it, rock it, rock it, rock it, . . .,
From a tree,
Excited chirping
sears the air –
trumpeting tension.

Minute gnats
take the air bringing
twisting bats weaving
through their dinner space.

Then long-awaited fireworks    
slo-mo, everywhere                             
rise and disappear –
a firefly ground finale,                   
ballet sans choreography
the heated evening mating urge, severe.

Rock it, cricket, rock it, rock it, rock it

A stir of breeze;
showers rattle the maple leaves.
The drama cools.
Night’s curtain falls.
Time to  exit

Dennis R. Keefe
May3, 2007

Friday, June 22, 2018


From the backyard arise
our first fireflies.

Months of magic released, spring’s
annual pool, genes,
from last year’s wintered over
beetle larval leavings.

Now lightning bugs poise
to open summer’s show.

Mates to be sought,
eggs to be wrought.
Their air, warmed and conditioned, just so.

On the day before summer
they danced at dusk.

Now through July,
    seeing it a must,
their daily rise
to a silent frantic
ground finale.

Luminescent genes
egg on the dance
that continues the pool.


Tuesday, June 19, 2018


Waited on
And on

Bedded bodies
Imprisoned minds
Memory Care freedom
But not for

Where is that young woman
That pretty girl
So full of it?
The one Jeremiah and I used to love to tease

She re-emerged from time to time
When her son, Noah
Or others came to care
To brush her hair
Feed her peas, ice cream
Take in some sun, fresh air
Read her a card
Or watch with her
The Twins or Vikings on TV

On and on

Last year I was able
To witness a special emissary

New sister-in-law, Moira
Sent her bridal bouquet
And a generous piece
Of gooey wedding cake

Mary Ellen, too, could celebrate
Her brother Jim’s and Moira’s marriage

This cake was especially potent
            A real break from nutrition through a straw
It managed to creep through the bars of her cage
And triggered associations and requests
Throughout the week for real food
Sandwiches, cheeseburgers

Sweet Moira

Ultimately we could not fix Mary Ellen
We could not bring back that youthful beauty
Or perky spirit and zest for living

But as long as she remained
Hope remained

In Noah’s words
She was in a good place
Soft flannel pajamas
Comfy bed
Pain free
Hands being held
Her favorite classical music playing

But now our hopes turn
To a new Mary Ellen
Not repaired
But brand new

Cosmic, maybe
Like her mother’s shooting star
Soaring over Lake Sisseton

(Did you see that at Mother’s wake?)

Or mom’s Christmas parade
Trailing down Albion Avenue through town
Bringing news of a new spirit in the air

There will be no Christmas parade for Mary Ellen
But I am looking for some of June’s summer magic

One of my favorites . . . fireflies
They are due to return
This year they will carry a special message to me
Mary Ellen’s spirit continuing to rise
That spunk, that spirit cannot be buried
Watch them rise and disappear
Night after night
Year after year

On and on

She died last Saturday
Let me close with a part of the readings from Sunday’s Lectionary
This is part of St. Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapters 4 and 5

“Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen, for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.”    

Amen, my sister
Amen, my friends